What is Morning Time?
Morning Time is the heart of our homeschool. It’s how we begin our days together.
It goes by many names – Morning Time, Morning Basket, Circle Time, Morning Devotions, Morning Meeting, I think I have even heard it called Symposium. Some families do it in the afternoon, some do it in the evening.
Simply put, it is our time together specifically devoted to reading the Bible, prayer and things of truth, beauty and goodness.
Although many families naturally begin their days with time together with God’s Word, it was Cindy Rollins who first wrote about her more extended Morning Time.
“I began a morning meeting with my children as a way to incorporate subjects that were important to me but easily lost in the shuffle of conventional schooling.” Cindy Rollins
Morning Time is a time to focus on things that “school” does not include and yet they are fundamental to our true education because they are things that inspire wisdom and wonder.
Sarah Mackenzie writes that in the busyness of life “those experiences that shape my children’s souls and order their affections get set aside.”
“Morning Time,” she writes, “is time set aside for contemplation and discussion that offers an opportunity for the homeschooling mom to connect her children directly with beauty, art, poetry, and the ideas that feed and nourish the soul.” Sarah Mackenzie – Teaching from Rest
Pam Barnhill is the one who introduced me to the idea of Morning Time through her podcast Your Morning Basket Podcast.
“Quite simply, Morning Time contains subjects that the family can do together that emphasize truth, goodness, and beauty in their homeschool. Morning Time is a liturgy — one part of Charlotte Mason’s “atmosphere” of education.
These small practices done daily over time are not only a means to an education (and a good one at that), but a means to shaping virtue in ourselves and in our children.” Pam Barnhill
Morning Time is not about Maths or English. It’s not about “school.” It’s about our relationships with each other, with our God and with our world.
Morning Time is about the big picture. About raising men of godly character and faithful wisdom.
Our Morning Time
When we started homeschooling this year we began our Morning Time slowly, starting with our Bible reading and Calendar Board. Just five minutes a day. It was barely even a “time” but rather was how we began his Tablework, which is our word for formal homeschool work.
Gradually we have added things. Things that bring truth, beauty and goodness to our day. The Charlotte Mason “riches.”
We added stories. Short picture books. Longer read alouds.
We included music. Beautiful, rich, classical or worship music that we enjoy over breakfast.
We brought in art. Gorgeous, historical, significant artwork.
Once we had settled into a good rhythm we shifted things a bit so that we could also include his younger brother for some of our time together and also to make the division between Morning Time and Tablework more significant.
We like to sleep in, wake up gradually, play a little before breakfast. We stay in our jammies. We eat our breakfast. We begin our Morning Time.
We do not do Morning Time every single day. Some days we need to be out of the house quickly and nothing gets done. Other mornings we have only enough time for reading the Bible and a picture book.
Some mornings we read and read and read and Morning Time goes until lunch time.
Morning Time is the cornerstone of our homeschool, and of our daily lives. It starts each day well. It keeps the most important things first. If the rest of the day goes topsy turvy and gets lost in the craziness of life, then we have still done something good that day.
The Nitty Gritty
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Bible – My husband reads from the Jesus Storybook Bible (Amazon, Book Depository) with the boys before bed but I wanted to start their day with God’s Word too. I am reading through the Read with Me Bible (Amazon, Book Depository) (NIrV Bible Storybook) with them in the mornings and then we pray together.
Picture Books – After we read the Bible together we read one or two picture books from our shelves or the library. For a list of our favourite picture books see here.
Read Aloud – We always have a read-aloud book that we are working through. I usually read from this then, anywhere from a page to a whole chapter depending on their mood. We also read this at other times as we want. At the moment we’re reading Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (Amazon, Book Depository). Previously we have read The Muddle-headed Wombat by Ruth Park, Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Amazon, Book Depository) and The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum (Amazon, Book Depository).
At this point, my 4yo and I move to his little table and leave my 2yo happily in his high chair with his picture books and puzzles (and sometimes the iPad if he is not so happy).
Calendar Board – Each morning we update our calendar board. This has been so helpful for Mr 4 to learn the days, months and seasons in particular. We then use the date to find our devotion for the day.
Picture Studies – We did our first picture study this term (first half) and it was lovely. We chose Paolo Uccello because Mr 4 had already seen his painting of St George and the Dragon in one of his books and was walking around the house saying “Paolo Uuuuuuccello.” I simply printed and laminated 5 of his most famous artworks and each week we looked at a new one and put it on the wall behind his table. Each Monday we would pull out the next artwork and I would ask him to tell me what he could see and then I would tell him the title of the piece. I plan to do another picture study next term as well starting with some of my favourite artists or artists that he has come across and so has some connection with. I want him to be observant. To wonder. And to appreciate beauty.
Brain Games – Some mornings we need a break from reading so we play a quick brain game. Some of the games we have played include Memory, Shopping List, Dinosaur Snap, Connect Four and Uno.
Geography/Nature/History Read Aloud – We have only just added this to our Morning Time. At the moment we are reading through Magic Australia by Nuri Mass. When we finish it we will read The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer (Amazon, Book Depository).
Recitation – We haven’t included any memory work yet into our Morning Time but this is something that we will add at some point. We will memorise Bible passages and Poetry.
Morning Time Inspiration
A Handbook to Morning Time by Cindy Rollins
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie has a wonderful section on Morning Time
Your Morning Basket Podcast by Pam Barnhill
Your Morning Basket (Step by Step Guide) by Pam Barnhill with Cindy Rollins
Do you do a Morning Time in your family? I’d love to hear what you include.